Martin County Tax Collector Shutdown FBI Investigates

MARTIN COUNTY – The FBI is involved in the investigation of the “security incident” that kept the tax collector’s office closed for three weeks, tax collector Ruth Pietruszewski revealed on Friday.

Pietruszewski said he informed the FBI on Oct. 18 after learning of the incident two days earlier. When she informed the Florida attorney general’s office, she was advised to call the FBI.

Forensic pathology is being analyzed as part of the investigation, she said. She declined to provide further details about the investigation or what could have stopped her operation.

Cyber ​​security expert:Martin County Tax Collector ‘Likely’ Hacked by BlackByte Ransomware

Has the tax collector’s office been hacked? Has BlackByte ransomware attacked the tax collector’s office? Maybe not, but no one is sure

It is not known when the investigation will be completed or when the tax collector’s office will resume operations.

It is also difficult to know if any data has been compromised.

An FBI spokesperson did not respond to calls or emails from TCPalm seeking comment.

Officials initially suspected that the tax collector’s office had been targeted by BlackByte ransomware attack, according to public records obtained by TCPalm. The officials reconsidered this assessment, but did not rule out the possibility.

Threat analyst Brett Callow, of global cybersecurity firm Emsisoft, said it was “reasonably likely” that BlackByte was responsible for shutting down the tax collector’s office. Callow discovered a dark web message from the BlackByte hackers at the tax collector’s office, he said.

More services became available at the collector’s main office in Stuart on Friday, especially for vehicle-related transactions such as registrations and titles, Pietruszewski said. Only quick titles and driver’s licenses were not available.

The delay in restoring vehicle services was prolonged by a statewide network outage of the state’s Department of Motor Vehicle and Road Safety that began on Oct. 29, said responsible.

The department first tweeted about the incident on Tuesday, then released an update on Wednesday that said the state tax collector and motor vehicle offices were resuming service, but “some places may take more time than others “.

The state glitch, the result of a hardware failure, was not linked to “the Martin County security incident,” press secretary Jessica Kelleher confirmed on Tuesday.

Property owners can continue to pay their property taxes in person at the Stuart office and online, Pietruszewski said. The Palm City location has a 24 hour drop box and the Hobe Sound location has a drop box available during business hours.

In addition, covert weapons transactions were available on Friday at the Stuart and Hobe Sound sites, and Transportation Safety Agency services were available at the Palm City site.

Lina Ruiz is TCPalm’s surveillance reporter for Martin County. You can reach her at [email protected], on Twitter @ Lina_Ruiz48 or at 321-501-3845.


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Esther L. Steinbach

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